Summary: Do you feel a groaning deep inside that you can’t get free of? Do you have a longing for a deeper knowledge and understanding of God than you ever have before? Do you carry a burden that requires strength beyond your limits? Do you need direction?
Galatians 4:4: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law (NKJV).”
Think for a moment about your very most favorite kind of fruit. A peach or a nectarine or a pear or pineapple or whatever fruit it is that you find to be the absolutely most delicious and desirable in all the world. Now, remember that one piece you wish all the others was like – its color, its texture, its shape, its size, its smell, and – most importantly – its taste. Perfectly, ideally, lusciously ripe.
“The fullness of the time…” The place and the time that God chose to send His Son was the most ideal, the most ripe with potential for fruitfulness of any other in all of history, either before or since.
Had Jesus been born even a few years earlier, the Gospel message would have drifted into oblivion because it would not have been transportable into all of the known world in only a matter of months. Had He been born a few years later, the world would have been too wrapped up in surviving the onslaught of depraved brutality and decadence that brought about the invasion by the barbarians and the demise of the Roman Empire.
Even a brief glance at the history of the times that Jesus was born into proclaims the truth of Paul’s statement.
The place where Jesus was born was at the center of the world. That small land bridge where Jerusalem sits perfectly nestled between and is the perfect connector for the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. Every major trade route in the ancient world passed through Israel; in fact, the most traveled of them all ran along the base of a hill just a stone’s throw away from Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. There is a spot pointed out to visitors to the Church of The Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem as being the center of the world. Looking through the Old Testament we find reference after reference where God Himself says that all nations will one day gather there to worship the Lord God Almighty. Even today, the epicenter of world events lies in the heart of Israel.
No one could have planned a better place from which to launch a world religion.
“The fullness of the time…” Time. Since the beginning of measured time when God first spoke the universe into existence, the world was never readier for the Savior, first promised to Eve in Genesis 3. Socially, politically, morally and religiously, the lines of human coexistence have never been more perfectly threaded together to receive God as they were at the moment of the birth of Christ over two thousand years ago.
Shakespeare said, “There is a tide in the affairs of men.” There really does seem to be an ebb and flow to life and human history that almost demands that certain monumental events take place. More specifically, there have been a handful of moments in history when mankind was perfectly poised to receive and experience spiritual giants sent from God to awaken within us a hungering need for a loving yet righteous God.
On that Christmas night so long again, when the sky exploded with the light of the glory of God and His love for all mankind, the ebb and flow of human history reached an apex that it will not see again until Jesus returns at the end of time.
Let’s look for a few minutes at God’s timing. Perhaps we will walk away with a deeper sense of how God is working in our own lives, as well as in the conditions and circumstances of our world.
The orchestrating hand of God had been at work for several thousand years of human interaction. At the time when Jesus was born, the known world was perfectly poised politically for the birth of Christ and Christianity. Never before had the world been unified as it was at that time. The Pax Romano, the Roman Peace, extended from Hadrian’s Wall in the far northwest of Britain to the Euphrates River, from the mountains bordering the Far East to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Spain, and from the Caspian Sea to the place where jungle and desert met in North Africa.
The entire known world was held in the iron fist of Roman rule, where every nation had to live at peace with every other nation. Pirates no longer ruled the Mediterranean; roaming bands of robbers no longer ruled the open lands between towns and cities. There was a rule of law that was inviolable and unwavering. For the most part, with only minor exceptions, people lived securely and in relative safety.
The entire Roman Empire was united together with an intricate system of roads. Even today there are portions of the Roman Road intact and visible in England, France, various Middle Eastern countries, as well as Italy and Greece. The first missionaries of Christianity walked along the same roads that the legions of Caesar marched in order to maintain the peace throughout the far reaches of the empire. The gospel spread like a wildfire through the civiized world at such a rapid pace because the people carrying the message could travel so far so quickly.